“Garvit is two years old and does not eat without a phone. He cries, throws things and won’t eat if take the phone away. What should I do?”
A friend sent me this question. The following is the edited and updated version of the answer I have shared with her. This should help several other parents too.
1. First of all, apologize to yourself and your child for introducing this habit to him. It’s us, the adults, and not kids. Feeding a child can be time-consuming sometimes but do not think parenthood is clumsy and pathetic, appreciate the patience it brings and things shall be fine.
2. To correct it further, be emotionally ready for a few tougher days ahead. Be prepared for cries and other tantrums. Be extremely patient, polite, and persistent. Just don’t give in to the phone.
3. Children replicate the same habits as adults, maybe you can be very vigilant while using your mobile phone.
4. Eat together. Make it a family affair. When everyone eats together, it provides a different focus for the child, turning mealtime into a shared experience. The key is to foster interaction among family members, making the goal to enjoy the meals together.
5. Spending time in cooking the best suitable meal for him automatically wins his heart. Balance the taste and nutrition.
6. Don’t force him to eat. Don’t run behind to make him eat. Let him come back to you with hunger in his stomach.
7. Prepare options for the phone, and those should keep changing before the child’s interest wanes. Few suggestions are…
- Toys, obviously the most important and first choice.
- Some musical instruments that he can beat to generate sound.
- Swings and slides if you have parks nearby or if there’s any possibility of arranging them at home.
- Nature would be the best companion. Finding sparrows and squirrels around can be a good way to stay engaged while feeding the kid.
- Colorful books.
8. Enjoy the process. These toys and activities must not be just for your child but for you too.
9. Engage with them, have fun. It should help reduce your stress level too, which you might experience while feeding him.
Lastly, I am happy you have decided to stop giving the phone for eating. Things will be good for sure. All the best.
Do you know someone facing this issue? You may consider sharing this article with them.